21ST CENTURY POLICING

While the Home Minister Rajnath Singh deserves full appreciation for his statement while addressing the personnel of the blue dungaree-donning Rapid Action Force (RAF) at their base on the occasion of their silver jubilee anniversary, at the same time it needs to be seen as to how far he will succeed as the nation’s Home Minister in transforming the police organization and its personnel which not only he envisages but every citizen craves for in India. The Home Minister is absolutely right in conveying that the 21st century police cannot be a brute force but will have to be a civilized unit and asking the police personnel to be patient in dealing with challenging situations such as riots and protests besides stressing upon the need for the police forces, both under the Centre and the States, to adapt new technology and psychological solutions in order to control and divert the minds of the rampaging crowds during protests or riot-like situations. Most probably the Home Minister too feels that in India the atrocious experience of the people at the hands of men in Khakis during British rule did not vanish even after India attained freedom in 1947. It is a fact that the situation across the nation today is such that the language of freedom is no longer the common tongue spoken by the citizenry. “We the people” have been reduced to items of exploitation at the hands of those who are supposed to be our saviours. The law enforcers in Khakis seem to be the saviours of those in power and not that of the common man. Lodging of an FIR with the police is no less than a herculean task for the common man and the same police takes least possible time to trace and recover the lost buffalo of a minister or the lost puppy of a celebrity. It needs to be realized by those in governance that the State can touch the pinnacle of glory only if its Law enforcers perform their duty with due diligence thus ensuring peaceful environment with people having full faith in them. Across the nation the situation not only in far flung areas but even in the capital cities is far from satisfactory. Keeping in mind the agony and trauma that generally has to be undergone while getting an FIR registered and thereafter, people prefer to bear the victimization by criminal rather than approaching the men in Khakis especially in the far flung areas where the distance of the police station and absence of any transport facility further discourage even the victim from approaching the police. Despite the Police Organization in J&K continuing its spree of Police Public meetings there is no commendable change in the situation on ground. There is always a price to be paid for challenging the status quo and one must not forget that then again, the price for not challenging the status quo is even worse as it leads to outright tyranny, loss of our freedoms, and a totalitarian regime. Therefore a serious question that arises is “What can you really do when you find yourself at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to serve and protect?” The answer to the question can be found out only if the upright officers from the Khaki establishment as well as the common people’s representatives put down their heads together to do away with the mist of fear among the common people. While in the present day scenario there is not only a dire need for the security personnel to keep an effective check on the incidents in which attempts are made to break the country on the lines of caste, religion or regionalism, the police of the 21st century will have to be a civilized force practicing patience and control on ground while dealing with hard and challenging situations like riots and protesting crowds. As stated by the Home Minister that sometimes police forces have to use slight force but in such situations too, prudence is required, it is hoped that the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) will soon come out with less-lethal solutions to be used in policing tasks and crowd control so that success can be achieved in implementing the formula of using “minimum force” to obtain “maximum results”. Nothing is unachievable and let the civil society as a whole especially the police organization and the politicians take a sincere initiative to transform the image of this most vital establishment once for all making it people friendly in true letter and spirit.